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As the Aug. 1 launch date nears for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, more people are realizing they won't be able to share education benefits with their families.
One of the requirements to transfer benefits to a spouse or children is that the service member must still be in the military Aug. 1 — bad news for people about to separate or who have already separated.
Air Force Lt. Col. Lisa Henry-Hamilton, dean of academics at the Defense Language Institute's Foreign Language Center, will miss the Aug. 1 date because she has a previously approved July 1 retirement date that it is too late to change. Already on terminal leave while awaiting the end of her 23-year career, Henry-Hamilton feels cheated.
"I might have changed my date if I had known this," she said in response to the Pentagon's announcement last week of how transfer rights will work.
"I have served 23 years," she said. "For two months to make this difference after serving on 9/11 and deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan just seems like perhaps everything wasn't taken into consideration."
Henry-Hamilton said she knows transfer rights were included in the new GI Bill as a recruiting and retention benefit, but "it is called the Post-9/11 GI Bill for a reason. Shouldn't the transfer apply to those who were in since then?"
Iraq war veteran Dana Beausoleil said the transfer rights policy is unfair to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who were unable to stay in the military because of combat-related medical conditions or who were denied re-enlistment since their combat service ended.
"It is a national tragedy," said Beausoleil, who said he has more than 27 years of service in the Navy, Navy Reserve, Army Reserve and Army National Guard.
"I am a wounded warrior with TBI, tremors, massive nerve damage in my right shoulder and arm, loss of feeling in my right hand, PTSD, and back injuries," he said. "Under the ‘approved guidelines,' I am not eligible to transfer any benefits to my children, even though my disability has cost me my military career."
He said he has earned GI Bill benefits that he could use himself, but has no plans to do so because he already has a master's degree that "I had to pay for myself." He would have liked to use the new benefits to pay for the college education of his two daughters.